Donald Trump’s Politics of White Fear Have Roots in Southern California

An hour east of Hollywood, where America’s cultural fetish for stories of apocalypse and antiheroes is made, the Claremont Institute lies in a nondescript beige building in the Pomona Valley. Created in 1979 to educate a new generation of conservative leaders through the study and reinterpretation of the American founding, the think tank has long peddled dystopian delusions, including that the U.S. faces an existential threat from a “Third World” invasion; that diversity “dissolves” the country’s unity; and that the many-headed monster of “wokeness,” “identity politics,” and “multiculturalism” seeks to “destroy the American way of life.”

“The mission of the Claremont Institute is to save Western civilization,” buttoned-up president Ryan Williams, who has been with the institute since 2005, declares in a welcome video on the Claremont’s YouTube page. “We’ve always aimed high.”

The institute was founded by students of the political scientist Harry Jaffa, who in the 1960s helped radicalize the Republican Party through his participation in the presidential campaign of the right-wing zealot Barry Goldwater, writing the lines of his acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Jaffa was a prolific author and scholar of Abraham Lincoln and other founders. He likened “political correctness” to Leninism and Stalinism.

The Claremont Institute, which has no affiliation with the Claremont colleges, publishes the Claremont Review of Books and awards fellowships to applicants interested in studying the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other founding documents. Last year, it awarded a fellowship to Jack Posobiec, a Pizzagate conspiracy theorist with ties to neo-fascist groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The institute teaches and publishes new takes on America’s founding that whitewash history, insisting that the country was never racist and that those who argue otherwise seek to annihilate the United States. The mission statement says it seeks to “restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life.” Its scholars launder white supremacist ideas through the language of heritage and the self-aware performance of erudition.

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Most recently, Claremont Institute helped perpetuate the racist birther lie that Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris isn’t a legitimate American citizen. Senior fellow John C. Eastman wrote the debunked article in Newsweek questioning Harris’s citizenship with his tortured reading of the Constitution. The institute has long challenged birthright citizenship, which is enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment. Newsweek editors have since apologized for the op-ed, albeit after saying it had “nothing to do with racist birtherism.” Notably, Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer is a former fellow of the institute. Trump refused to condemn the birther lie, calling Eastman “brilliant” and saying he won’t be “pursuing” the theory but adding, “You would’ve thought [Harris] would’ve been vetted by Sleepy Joe.”

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It is no accident that the white supremacist fantasies buttressing Trump’s reelection campaign were …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Magazine

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